Thursday, April 01, 2010

On World Autism Awareness Day Please Be Aware That Autism Is A Disorder

On  World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, remember that autism is a disorder or more accurately a group of disorders.  It is not just a different way of thinking, a way of life or a political career path for a media savvy high functioning University student with little  exposure to, or actual knowledge of the realities of  severe Autistic Disorder. 

There are indeed many very high functioning persons with Aspergers and some high functioning persons with other "autism" disorders.  There are also many persons with Autistic Disorder and Intellectual Disability and others who are generally very low functioning, who will self injure, be at greater risk from the ordinary dangers of daily life, remain unemployed throughout their lives and live in the care of others in a variety of residential and institutional settings. These are facts.  

"Autism", or what is described as autism varies.  Autistic Disorder is currently shown in the DSM IV as one of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders:

299.00 Autistic Disorder

total of six (or more) items from (1), (2), and (3), with at least two from (1), and one each from (2) and (3):

  1. qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

    marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
    failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
    a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest)
    lack of social or emotional reciprocity

  2. qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:

    delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gestures or mime)
    in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
    stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
    lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level

  3. restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

    encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
    apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
    stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
    persistent preoccupation with parts of objects


Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years: (1) social interaction, (2) language as used in social communication, or (3) symbolic or imaginative play.



The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett's Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.

As currently described Autistic Disorder is exactly what it says. It is a disorder.  Not a social movement, not a culture and not just a different way of looking at the world.

On World Autism Awareness Day please be aware that autism is a disorder, one that impairs and restricts the lives of many persons who carry the diagnosis of Autistic Disorder and to some extent those that are diagnosed with other Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

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